AEO - Association of event organisers

“A crisis is a terrible thing to waste”*


“A crisis is a terrible thing to waste”*


Wow. Where did the last few months go? Returning from the UFI CEO Summit in Italy, having met Pope Francis in February was sure to be one of the most memorable parts of the year.



So much changed in the months that followed that will impact our lives and the events industry forever. 

Nobody can deny how challenging this has been. With events cancelled, jobs furloughed and some lost, entire supply chains shaken, it will continue to send shock waves through the industry for time to come.

Embedded in the challenges of lockdown, there are silver linings I hope we can carry forward beyond COVID-19.

A time for reflection

I’ve loved not commuting to the office and the many meetings. It has afforded me more time to re-evaluate my priorities personally and professionally. 

I’ve missed my friends and colleagues from around the world and can’t wait until we meet again but also learnt that we can be globally connected without travel, sharing further and wider digitally than we ever tried before.

Embracing technology

Being able to implement or expand on digital processes in the business has been our lifeline and built resilience into the DNA of our company.

As time goes on, we are continuing to look to technology to support us in delivering far-reaching value in a cost-effective and sustainable way.

With our FaceTime Exhibitor Masterclasses, cancelled this year, we have taken this time to review rolling out that content digitally, to reach international exhibitors on different time zones, further promoting the power of live events – something I’ve been wrestling with previously, without success.

Digital meetings have also meant doing away with train delays, traffic, parking, etc. It has freed up more time to meet more frequently. Engagement and communication with our community have never been better, and a hybrid with face-to-face will become the new norm for us.

A united cause

Attendance on our working groups has soared, as we’ve seen a greater desire to come together to share, learn and reinvent the wheel.

Listening in and participating on the myriad of zoom calls as so many great minds come together to create, collaborate and resolve has been nothing short of inspiring. 

As an industry, we’re working through common goals to present clear, consistent messages to the government.

The primary focus of our government lobbying has always been to ensure the government understands our industry, the part we play in the economy, on businesses, on people and our need to have dedicated government representatives.

Together, with our sister associations, AEV and ESSA, our members and various industry bodies, our voice has never been stronger, and is something we will continue to reinforce on the other side.

The team

Internally it feels like something has lifted. While the team is assuredly missing the office interaction, meetings have become more streamlined, productivity higher and it’s heartening to see them all looking out for each other.

The pandemic has allowed us to see the different faces of our peers in their very ‘human’ environments, as we’ve waved hello to family members and pets and peered into the living room.

The realisation of how human we all are has paved the way for more genuine, empathetic and supportive interactions.

A lasting note from a member

The solidarity, outlook and optimism from AEO members have been incredible.

Emma Cartmell of CHS Group recently said the following, which inspired this article: My business coach said, ‘A crisis is such a terrible thing to waste’ - and he’s right - our industry will come out of this much stronger. I’m learning so much, becoming a better business person and strategically looking at ways I can expand the business to offer other services, which will no doubt strengthen my business in the future.



* Stanford Economist, Paul Romer

  • "Broadway Events joined the AEO on the Enterprise Membership. We’ve already taken advantage of the many benefits including the excellent FaceTime Masterclasses and training guides for exhibitors."
    Emma Barrett
    Broadway Events
  • "We are a member of the AEO because it is a proactive association for the events industry. As an organiser it provides us with high value ideas, networking, guidance and information."
    David Harrison
    PPMA Group
  • "This year, the association has led working groups to address industry issues and put on some amazing events full of insightful content for both organisers and, through the AEOs FaceTime initiative, exhibitors. In addition, the AEO has represented the industry at a Governmental level to raise awareness of the importance of events to the UK economy."
    Paul Byrom
    Upper Street Events
  • "I genuinely believe that if you’re involved in organising events you should become a member of the AEO."
    Simon Kimble
    Clarion Events
  • "Our membership of the AEO represents real and tangible value for UBM - it provides fantastic networking opportunities, practical training for our team as well as valuable insight into the state of our industry."
    Simon Parker
    Informa Markets
  • "As an Association business, we appreciate the excellent work the secretariat of the AEO do for our community. From the events side of our business, the AEO provides an excellent return on investment, providing thought leadership, fantastic networking, brilliant awards, excellent research and FaceTime, a valuable tool to tell our markets why exhibitions and events should be an essential part of the marketing mix."
    Neil Felton
  • "AEO’s networking and member meetings are valuable for individuals at all levels within our organisation. The promotion of our sector to the outside world, to government, authorities and business at large is another vital aspect of the AEO’s purpose for members, many of whom, like my company, work on events throughout the world."
    Stephen Brooks
    Mack Brooks Exhibitions
  • “Knowledge is power and the AEO dinners are certainly powerful, there is always a wealth of knowledge at the table. Insightful presentations make for a constructive and extremely social way to learn from the experts who’ve done it before. I attended the Japanese evening and gained really valuable insight about the culture and how best to communicate with a local audience.”
    John Whitaker
    Vice President Marketing, Data & Digital , dmg events
  • "We have the opportunity to contribute positively to the industry as well as gaining valuable insight and advice. There’s no need to spend valuable time and money reinventing the wheel when you have so many experienced professionals in AEO membership to learn from”
    Emma Cartmell
    CHS Group
  • "JOINING THE AEO HAS BEEN FANTASTIC! Being able to gift our customers with free places at the FaceTime masterclasses, learn alongside industry peers and seek advice to common challenges is invaluable”
    Sharon Azam
    GovNet Communications
  • I just wanted to send my most sincere thanks for everything that you and the AEO team are doing to help navigate the events industry through the pandemic. The working groups and communication from the AEO have been excellent and I’m really appreciative of being part of such a wonderful organisation.
    Simon Burns
    ICHF Events
  • I think what the AEO has been doing during this tough time has been exceptional.
    Greg Cherry
    QD Events LTD
  • It is so useful to hear from your peers at this time. Please pass my thanks to Ruth and the BTIG panel
    Dan Assor
    CloserStill Media
  • Just wanted to thank you and Ruth this morning for the Zoom meeting - it was really interesting to hear how things are moving along in the virtual/hybrid meeting/exhibitions. All very new to me, so a lot to digest.
    Maureen Wright
    Optic UK
  • The session this morning was fantastic. We are right in the midst of this and the information was so useful. We can apply it immediately
    Claire Adams
  • The AEO provides an opportunity to make a difference, to work with other companies for the good of the industry as a whole, but beyond that, it provides it’s members with valuable insight and tangible benefits to grow your business, upskill and engage your teams. For those reasons, our membership is in indelible ink on the each annual budget. In short, if you aren’t a member, you are missing out.
    Ed Tranter
    73 Media




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